On Thursday, February 3, the House of Representatives, as part of its consideration of the America COMPETES Act of 2022, considered an Amendment that increases support to fusion energy. This amendment grows the authorized amount of funding for the Department of Energy's proposed milestone-based public-private partnership program for fusion energy from $325 million over 5 years to $800 million. It also increases authorized funding for a new materials program from $200 million to $400 million over the coming five years.
The amendment was passed as part of a larger block of science-related amendments on a broadly party-line vote of 221-211 and the underlying legislation passed 222-210. While these votes were party-line, they don't reflect the bipartisan support for fusion, but instead the broad divides in Congress.
The Amendment was sponsored by Representatives Trahan, Beyer, and Bowman. Representative Trahan is a longtime supporter of fusion energy, having sponsored the fusion amendment to the Energy Act of 2020 that created the fusion energy milestone program; Representative Beyer is the Chairman of the Bipartisan House Fusion Energy Caucus; and Representative Bowman is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Leadership in fusion energy deployment is a key part of how the United States competes in creating the jobs and industries of the 21st Century, that is why it is important that Congress supports passage of this Amendment and passage of this bill.
Building Support for Enhanced Appropriations
Ultimately, this legislation only increases the authorized level of funding, and does not appropriate any funding. However, it is important for the House to include increased support for fusion energy public-private partnerships and materials research in order to send a strong message to the House and Senate Appropriators that fusion funding should be robust as they complete work on the FY22 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The FIA supports funding fusion research funding in this bill of at least the $695 million in funding provided by the House-passed bill, which includes $45 million in funding.
[This post was updated to include the results of the legislation]